Microsoft plans to launch low-priced Surface tablets to compete with iPads

Microsoft plans to launch low-priced Surface tablets to compete with iPads

Beyond the Pro tablet market, it's being reported today that Microsoft is now preparing to go all-out and launch cheaper tablets sometime in the second half of the year in an effort to finally crack the top tablet vendors worldwide which they've failed to do thus far, six long years after entering the market to challenge the iPad. Microsoft is rumored to have softened the appearance of the tablets, rounding off the corners to make them more like the iPad, rather than leaving them square, as with the current Surface Line. At $400, Microsoft's entry would run $70 more than the budget iPad's starting price, but would still run considerably less than the $799 Surface Pro.

I had heard several weeks ago that Microsoft was indeed prototyping a new 10-inch Surface internally, but my sources had suggested said hardware would be powered by an ARM processor.

Fans of the Surface kickstand will be happy to hear that the feature will be sticking around with the cheaper surface tablet as well - although we won't see the new models shipping with a keyboard or stylus in the box. They'll also include USB-C connectivity, a first for Surface tablets, a new charging and syncing standard being used by some of the latest smartphones. The lack of space will cut into the room slotted for the battery, however, and battery life is said to be four hours shorter than that of the Surface Pros.

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The report doesn't specify which operating system Microsoft will choose to power the tablet. The new devices will cost as little as $400, and be paired with a cheaper keyboard cover to make a practical laptop alternative that comes in at around $500.

The sixth generation iPad starts at $329. The current keyboard cover costs an extra United States dollars 160; the new keyboard will go for a bit lower. The initial Surface tablets were based on an OS similar to Window Phone instead of offering the full desktop experience.

The new line will be part of a growing ecosystem of Microsoft hardware products that, beyond the tablets, includes the Surface Laptop, Surface Book laptop with a detachable screen, and the Surface Studio desktop computer.